The German Cabinet approved a resolution Thursday to send Patriot missile batteries, and as many as 400 soldiers, to Turkey’s southern border. Germany will aid its fellow NATO member state to prevent violence from Syria’s civil war from spilling across the border.
The missile battery is defensive in nature, according to a statement by NATO foreign ministers and “it will in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation.
NATO approved Turkey’s request for the missiles earlier this week, with the Netherlands and the United States also planning to send weapons. German Parliament will vote on the Cabinet resolution next week, and it is expected to pass with great support, according to German publication Der Spiegel.
“Turkey is currently the most-affected NATO partner in the Syria conflict,” said German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière in a statement. “Supporting Turkey is for a clear defensive purpose and is being conducted as a military deterrent.”
In early October, a Syrian mortar fell on a Turkish family home along the border, killing five people. Turkey bombed Syrian targets for nearly a week following the incident. Turkey has taken in the most Syrian refugees who have fled their homeland since the violence began nearly two years ago.
Turkey is currently the most-affected NATO partner in the Syria conflict.
—Thomas de Maizière, defense minister
Elaborating on the threat, Maizière told Der Spiegel that “Syria has a not insignificant ballistic missile capability,” with some missiles having a range of around 450 miles that could hit a large swath of Turkey.
“The Syrian government has shown no intention of using these rockets, but we want it to remain that way,” he added.
The German Foreign and Defense ministries said the decision would allow German troops to stay in Turkey until Jan. 31, 2014.
Germany’s approval of the deployment comes after concerns flared this week over Syria’s possible deployment of chemical weapons. Earlier this year, U.S. President Barack Obama described chemical weapons use by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as a “red line” that if crossed, could be grounds for possible military intervention.
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